Arsons hit ex-PM’s home
An incendiary device exploded outside the vacation home of former prime minister Costas Simitis on Friday, damaging the front of the building, but causing no injuries. Simitis, now 77, was prime minister from 1996 to 2004. On Monday, he made a rare public appearance in central Athens to endorse an initiative aimed at forming alliances among center-left parties, after support for Pasok was decimated by harsh bailout policies. In a separate incident late Friday, police said a group of about 40 youths attacked a police station, hurling firebombs that burned several cars in an area of central Athens.
Bomb explodes in Belfast
A bomb exploded in Belfast in a different location to the one given in a telephone warning, in what Britain’s Northern Ireland minister called a “reckless attack.” The call to a Belfast newsroom claimed the device had been left at a hotel, forcing the evacuation of the Northern Irish capital’s bustling Cathedral Quarter, packed with pre-Christmas revelers. However, the device went off elsewhere in the district just before 7pm on Friday. There were no reports of any injuries.
‘Jew-burning’ carol outrages
The country faced mounting outrage on Friday after a traditional choir performed a Christmas carol on public television that indirectly glorified the Holocaust and said Jews should be burned in a chimney. The song, shown on the country’s new TVR3 channel on Dec. 6, drew strong condemnation from religious groups and the US embassy in Bucharest. The government has also distanced itself from the controversial broadcast. The century-old carol, performed by a folk group in the northwestern Cluj region, features lyrics that use the pejorative term jidovi for Jews and includes a line that says Jews are good “only in the chimney, only in smoke.”
Mafia boss’ family arrested
Police on Friday issued 30 arrest warrants for suspects linked to Matteo Messina Denaro, the fugitive head of the Sicilian Mafia, including a sister who allegedly ran the criminal business on his behalf. Police said they had arrested some of the suspects in raids in the region around Trapani in western Sicily, which is Messina Denaro’s power base. Those arrested included two justice ministry employees accused of helping a firm linked to Messina Denaro win a contract to install security systems in a Palermo prison where many mafia bosses are held. Three of Messina Denaro’s cousins and a nephew were also targeted.